SWCP Day 13. Trevaunance Cove to Gwithian

Today’s distance walked – approx 25 kms (15.5 miles).
Ascent – approx 800m (2624ft).

Nature’s alarm clock (a big fat wood pidgeon sitting on the fence next to my tent) woke me this morning. I enjoyed a somewhat squashed croissant for breakfast and was out by 7.15am.
The initial part of today’s trail was through the relics of tin mine workings. The path dropped down to Blue Hills mine, then back up to the clifftops. As I came into St Agnes a couple of Kms later there were numerous chimneys and other ruined buildings to be seen. St Agnes was a very cute little place and I spent some time chatting with some holiday makers.

Blue Hills tin mine chimneys
Blue Hills tin mine chimneys

Next there was a climb up and around St Agnes Head. Way off in the distance I could see St Ives, and in between I could see the beaches of Chapel Porth and Porthtowan and lots of mine workings. There was also a white round MOD structure which looked like a golf ball, or an observatory, on the distance.

Wheal Coates mine
Wheal Coates mine

Even though I was close to civilisation this party of the trail had a very remote feel to it. The moorland was beautiful. Bright purple flowers were out in the heather and there were plenty of birds. The views again were spectacular. The water was turquoise far below and was smashing into the jagged cliffs.
I reached Porthtowan at 9.50am, and just after, the trail took me past a stretch of MOD land, and the ‘golf ball’.

Beautiful heathlands
Beautiful heathlands

I reached Portreath at 11.15am. Other than it’s lovely little beach I’m struggling to find anything nice to say about it (sorry!). I’m sure it was once a very lovely village, but at some point someone decided to slap up some really awful looking housing developments right in the middle of the village/harbourside area, thus removing any character it may have once had. To add to my disappointment I bought a cheese and bacon pastry from the bakery and threw it away after 2 bites, it was so greasy (ok, what did I expect?). I was planning a rest here but ended up going through pretty quickly.

Today's clifftop views
Today’s clifftop views

After Portreath it was back to the clifftops. The trail was pretty, with farmland inland and wide expansive views out to sea. This was quite a popular section, and a well formed easy path with lots of walkers. It was quite close to the road and very accessible. At around lunchtime, an amazing cafe appeared just off the trail. It was called Hell’s Mouth, but should have been called Heaven’s Door. I had an enormous piece of carrot cake with clotted cream.

For anyone who hasn’t had clotted cream (I’ve never found it in NZ) it’s cream, which is naturally super-thick and cream coloured, not white. It isn’t whipped – it’s solid (and made in a different way to regular cream I believe) and it is one of the best things on earth. A ‘Cream Tea’ i.e. scones, butter, jam and cream, isn’t the same without clotted cream.

I got cold again sitting in the wind, and even though it was sunny, and had to don my windproof jacket for the next leg. I finally made it to the Godrevy Point lighthouse and the start of the sweeping and sandy St Ives Bay. I didn’t see any seals at the seal colony there, but the magnificent views all around more than made up for it. I stopped for a few minutes to take it all in and then made my way to the enormous sand dunes behind the beach.

St Ives Bay, looking back to Godrevy lighthouse
St Ives Bay, looking back to Godrevy lighthouse

I got into Gwithian (sounds very Harry Potter-esque), a tiny village behind the sand dunes at around 3pm. I checked in to the Gwithian Farm campsite and they gave me a hikers pitch for a discount, which was great. I got set up then went to investigate the beach which was about a 15 minute walk away. When I got there I was really cold in the wind, so sat for 5 minutes then went back to camp.
A hiker I had met yesterday came into camp too, so we went for dinner at the Red River Inn just over the road in the village. I had a very average glass of wine and a truly magnificent burger.

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